Flu vaccine: Side effects, eligibility and how to sign up for your free jab

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While a roll out booster Covid jabs has just begun, many will also be wondering about this year’s flu vaccine as we rapidly approach the winter flu season.

The flu jab is a safe and effective vaccine offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications. You can get yours now.

Getting the flu jab could be more important than ever, with millions of people being urged to get it – as experts warn 60,000 people could die of flu this winter.

With the need for the shot greater than ever, find out if you’re eligible to get one, how to book yours, and what side effects there could be.

Are you eligible for the flu jab?

The flu jab will be given free on the NHS to people who are:

  • Aged six months to under 50 years in clinical risk groups
  • Pregnant
  • Aged 50 years and over
  • In residential care
  • Unpaid carers
  • Close contacts of people with weakened immune systems
  • Health and care staff

People can get the flu jab at their GP surgery, a pharmacy offering the service or from a midwifery service if they’re pregnant.

Of course, anyone can get the flu jab, but only the people listed above are entitled to a free jab through the NHS.

If none of the above list applies to you, find out how you can book a flu jab here, plus what it’ll cost.

Many employers organise subsidised flu jabs for their employees – something to keep an eye out for – or you can pay for one yourself at a participating pharmacy.

Does the flu jab have any side effects?

Contrary to what some suggest, the NHS state that the flu jab cannot give you the flu.

Their official advice online states: ‘None of the flu vaccines contains live viruses so they cannot cause flu.

‘If you are unwell after vaccination, you may have something else. Or you may have caught flu before your vaccination had worked.’

However, there are some side effects that could come after you get the flu jab.

Mild side effects could include:

  • Slightly raised temperature
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore arm where the needle went in – this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over

These side effects should only last a day or two, though.

The NHS adds that if you were to have an allergic reaction to the jab, you would do so within minutes, and the person administering the jab would know how to respond.

Can children have the flu jab?

Children can receive a vaccine for the flu, but unlike the jab in the arm adults get, they will get it in the form of a nasal spray.

The children who are eligible for the nasal spray vaccine are:

  • All children who are aged two and three on August 31, 2021.
  • All children in primary school and all secondary school pupils under the age of 16 on August 31, 2021.


MORE : Where can I get a flu jab and how much does it cost?


MORE : Don’t miss out! Why young people should get their Covid jab

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